Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Laya, Witch of the Red Pooh
[I wrote this for jejulife, but they never ran it.]
Art and story by Yo Yo
Published by Tokyopop (English, two volumes) In Korea it appeared in Young Champ magazine.
Korea may be full of comic books, but it can seem like all of them are just translated imports from Japan. So where are the Korean comics? Thankfully it recent years a variety of publishers have been releasing Korean comics (Manhwa) in English, so now you can find out what the country has to offer.
After reading Laya, Witch of the Red Pooh I really wished that there was magic in the world again. I wished that I could have a friend who could cast magic spells and make magic potions and let me stay at her house indefinitely after I burnt mine down. I wished I could do magic myself, but I'd probably be just as lazy as Laya.
Laya is a witch; not a wizened old crone as usually seen in Western stories, but (as you probably already know from the cover) a young, cute witch. She's also very lazy, with still lazier friends who hang around her house distracting her from getting her job done.
Laya's friends include Puss, her cat who talks, walks around in boots, and is constantly smoking or drinking when he's not sleeping. Snowy the Crow, who has to stay in the form of a cute boy or Laya will kick him out. And Niky, another witch who can't go home because she burnt her house down.
The stories are pretty silly, and usually about Laya procrastinating doing witch work like making magic potions, trying to use magic to make her life easier, or the characters being incompetent in some way or another. Each story is only about four pages long, but a surprising amount can happen in those pages, and each character's personalities really come across well despite the limited space.
Most of the humour is pretty understandable without any knowledge of Korea, though the occasional joke my go over your head if you don't know anything about the country. (You might wonder what the name Digo Re is funny, until you realize they meant "Re" to be the family name, not the last name.)*
The artwork varies quite a lot; the best stuff being nice and detailed, with lots of work put into designing the clothes the characters are wearing and the backgrounds. Then there's the sorta super deformed stuff, and at the bottom is the rather poorly drawn stuff that seems to have been drawn when the artist was horribly behind on deadlines. Yet the occasionally bad art doesn't detract from the comic itself, instead it (somehow) still manages to be enjoyable.
While all the dialogue in the Tokyopop edition is in English, the sound effects have been left untranslated, allowing you to practice your Korean alphabet, or completely ignore them as the case may be.
At around 120-30 pages both books are a bit shorter than your average comic from Tokyopop, but both are still totally worth picking up if you're in the mood for something cute and funny.
*Re Digo = ready go.